There is an application for that
As Hawaii officials turn to technology to improve management of the state’s most visited attractions, hotel companies are also turning to algorithms, artificial intelligence and smartphone apps to improve the experience. customer.
Many initiatives were already in development before the pandemic, but the implementation of social distancing rules has boosted programs as companies seek solutions that would both help with Covid-19 restrictions and serve as good investments for the future.
The renovation and relaunch of the Waikiki Beachcomber in April 2019 was an opportunity for the Outrigger Hospitality Group to test the services that now extend to the company’s other properties.
“Technology was a very important aspect of the renovation as we looked to add what guests are looking for today,” said Mike Shaff, vice president of hotel operations for Outrigger Hospitality Group, adding that travelers expect seamless connectivity with in-room entertainment systems and internet service that won’t crash when multiple devices are online.
“Zingle, the texting service, makes it very easy for customers to communicate their needs,” Shaff said. “If they’re out and about around Honolulu and want clean towels in their room when they get back, they can text us that. We want to automate as many operations as possible and provide these contactless options to eliminate the need to stop at the front desk. »
Outrigger Digital Passport, a smartphone app for customers that launched in April, replaces numerous paper documents given to customers with a single digital resource.
“A phone app made the most sense, and it really serves as a repository of information,” Shiratori said. “It has everything from restaurant hours to guest activity calendars, digital coupons, a resort map, and information on how to reserve a poolside cabana.”
Outrigger continues to build on existing technology with plans to streamline the messaging system and connect customers to concierge services on their mobile devices.
“We want to continue to personalize the customer experience, and we are exploring creating recommendations based on customer interests,” Shiratori said. “When this data is available or customers share this information about what they like to do, we can create a more personalized and unique experience with more localized content.”
Hotels across the islands, including Timbers Kauai, Royal Lahaina and Montage Kapalua Bay, have introduced contactless check-in during the pandemic, while restaurants have adopted QR codes for menus and placing orders.
“No one has bought the QR codes so far,” said JP Oliver, general manager of the Grand Wailea, which now uses the technology for its restaurant menus, spa services and general information.
“Everything is available to download to your phone, and we also have a virtual concierge service that customers can use with text and email,” he said. “A lot of these things were available before, but it was difficult to get buy-in from customers. Now these processes are becoming commonplace and it really simplifies communication with customers.”
As pandemic protocols are lifted, hoteliers will likely adapt again, several Hawaii hospitality analysts said, balancing the benefits of technology with the best guest experience.
“Many customers probably view check-in as a hassle, so contactless check-in that speeds up the process and saves money on staff could be a win-win solution,” said Frank Haas, consultant in hospitality and former vice president of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. president of marketing. “With QR codes in restaurants, on the other hand, you may gain flexibility to change the menu more frequently, but you may miss the opportunity to sell or ask the waiter to explain the menu and respond to questions. questions, so I think in some areas they will be wary of unintended consequences.